Gallen leaves Rangers' hitters seeing double
D-backs right-hander re-enters second spring start as part of building process
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The preseason is about more than pitch counts and pitch timers for pitchers. There are also rhythm adjustments, and Spring Training is the best time for that as well.
D-backs starter Zac Gallen made just his second appearance of the spring in Arizona’s 11-8 win over the Rangers on Monday afternoon at Surprise Stadium. The Spring Training re-entry rule instituted in 2021 allows pitchers to return to the game after being lifted, and Gallen made the unusual move not only to come back in the bottom of the fifth after leaving in the fourth, but to throw to just one batter -- a flyout to right off the bat of Marcus Semien -- before exiting again.
The strategy by manager Torey Lovullo allowed the fifth-year D-back to work into actual game flow with just a couple weeks left in Spring Training.
“Just get my body used to sitting down and getting up again for a fifth time,” Gallen said. “I would say maybe that’s just as important if not more important than getting the pitch count.”
The righty threw close to 70 pitches in his second outing as he looked to shake the dust off a tough spring debut on March 7, when he was tagged for four runs on three hits and four walks in two innings against Oakland.
“[I] felt better than I did the previous outing,” Gallen said. “That’s just kind of the thing with Spring Training, it’s building blocks trying to create a foundation.”
Gallen had plenty of offense behind him to help, including a four-run first inning that saw eight D-backs come to bat before he even took the mound. Buddy Kennedy, who hit cleanup and started at third base, had the inning’s big blast with a stand-up triple to center to score P.J. Higgins.
That allowed Gallen to settle in, although not all of his pitches were biting.
“Felt pretty good with the slider and changeup. Curveball was kind of not really existent,” said Gallen, who picked up the win to move to 1-1 this spring. “But the fastball felt like it was coming out pretty good. Probably at the end there, I just maybe started running out of gas.”
Lovullo saw it differently.
“I believe him, but I didn’t see any of that,” the skipper said. “I thought he was doing a good job. He got into that 60-pitch range, which we wanted. His command of the baseball was much better this time than when he threw the last.”
Walker fine after HBP
The D-backs had a scare when first baseman Christian Walker was drilled with a pitch just above his hip and left the game early. But Lovullo says the exit was precautionary and he expects Walker to be fine, going as far as to say that Walker would have stayed in had it been the regular season.
With two weeks left in the spring before Arizona opens up March 30 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, look soon for players and even some pitchers to start playing on consecutive days, Lovullo added.
“I’ll start to do that, probably the last seven days of the season,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ll play anybody nine innings, but I’ll get them pretty close -- probably seven, eight innings for some of our guys and get them back to backs. We’ve been doing it slowly right now, but we’ll continue to do that probably with a week to go in the spring.”